Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kids' Songs and Not-So-Kids' Songs

Before I had Brynna, a friend of mine had a baby. He told me the story of standing in his wife's hospital room, holding his tiny new son and singing to him. He immediately realized that he didn't know any kid's songs and he ended up singing Christmas songs to the baby for hours.

I laughed at him. Mercilessly. I mean, really, how do you not know kids' songs? Twinkle, Twinkle, anyone? Or Rock-a-Bye Baby? Is this really even possible.

Then my precious Brynna was born. I knew kids' songs. I had kids' songs coming out of my ears. But one fateful night at three a.m. I discovered something: Kids' songs suck!! Not because they are cutesy and mostly meaningless, but because they are short. They are 30 seconds and then over and the long ones are annoying (think Little Bunny Foo-Foo or 99 Bottles of Whatever). So, I sang something else.

The song that popped into my head that night was "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead. I am not a Deadhead (not that there's anything wrong with that) but Counting Crows (aahhh marry me Adam Duritz, what, I'm already married. Crap.) had done a cover and I had been listening to it long enough to know all the words. Also, it was slow. I changed the name in the middle of the song to Sweet Brynna-Kate (I can't even remember what the name is because I've been singing it that way for four years now - the wonders of Google tell me it's Anne Marie.)

After a few reprisals of the chorus, I moved right into "American Pie" by Don McClean. I think that night I might have also done Lisa Loeb's "Stay" and Tricia Yearwood's "She's in Love with the Boy." 'Cause that's how I roll.

After that first fateful night, when I realized that baby's are listening to your voice and won't be permanently damaged by lyrics about borrowing money from the devil or helter skelter, I branched out. I started singing any little song that came into my head. If there was outright bad language, I would hum through it or substitute another word in the fashion of bad voice-over-cable-television dubbing.

That was kinda fun after a while. I started challenging myself. Country Joe McDonald became my singing Brynna to sleep friend. It kept me awake to be constantly thinking about what was coming and how I could change it to something funnier.

It was addictive and I finally just started changing all the lyrics. Well, not all, it wouldn't really be fun if you coulnd't recognize the song anymore and if you have ever heard me sing, you'll know that lyric recognition is your only hope.

My favorite is a little ditty about peaches to the tune of "I Want to Be Sedated." I mean, really, who doesn't love The Ramones and babies? Why not mix them together?

Twenty-twenty-four bites to go,
I wanna eat some peaches,
Nothing to do Nowhere to go-ho,
I wanna eat some peaches,
So hurry, hurry, hurry, get me to my bib,
Hurry, hurry, hurry before I need the crib,
Bam-bam-bam-bam, Ba-bam-bam-bam-bam,
I wanna eat some peaches.

Thank you, thank you, no applause necessary. (Incedentally, one might wonder why I don't just sing that Peaches song by POTUSA, since it's already like made up and stuff, but if you are really asking that then I have to assume that you have never met me in person and don't understand that I think the hard way is FUN!)

I have, in fact, come to believe it is my duty as a mother to introduce my precious girls to the world of classic rock in this way. We sing everything from Aretha to Bad Religion, from Skynard to Wham. And then we throw in some Cash. There are also lessons when I get tired of singing. The other night Maren learned all about Nirvana during her bath. I'm not sure I convinced her that Courtney Love isn't all bad, but someday I'll sing her "Celebrity Skin" and "Doll Parts."

Because, really, if I don't teach them this stuff, who will? This is not the kind of stuff that I want them learning on the playground.


Anonymous said...

When my first niece/cousin/whatever was born... her mom and I were in the hospital and I sang some silly little made up song to her that was soft and sweet.

It went something like... "Ohhh Janna, sweet sweet Janna, ohhh baby, sweet sweet baby"... mix/repeat/mix/shake/repeat.

When I was in the hospital with the SECOND kid (same mother), the night after she was born... ...instead of something soft and sweet and personalized, Josey got.. ... "Music of the Night"

About three words in... I realized these were somehow already two very very very different children.


Jessi said...

Nothing like a little Phantom. We've done our fair share of Broadway, too. Brynna is partial to West Side Story, especially America and Maren likes Hair.